Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Emperor's Coming Here?

There's a Big Cheese coming.

The Area Manager or something.

Everyone has to clean and tidy and be on their best behaviour. Reminds me of the geezer at the start of "Return of the Jedi", stammering "we shall double our efforts" at the news of the Emperor's imminent visit.

Makes me wonder if the Big Cheese actually knows what a cinema is really like.

I have to go into the bowels of the building, checking emergency lights and making sure fire-exits open.

Dark corridors, musty smells.

There's a room with no lights that seems to serve no purpose. It has a hole in the floor that leads to another empty room. Forgotten pockets of the huddled mass of the cinema. I don't like this room. I have a morbid fantasy that one day I'll be in the lift and the doors will slide open to reveal the blackness of this room, even though the lift-shaft is halfway round the site. And then something will come out of the hole.

I have more tangible and immediate horrors to face at the moment, though. As I descend the screen five emergency-exit stairwell, the unmistakable stink of stale urine wafts up the steps.

If there was a fire, and you were in screen five or screen six, you would escape into a narrow concrete wrinkle-on-the-face-of-the-city that leads out onto the square. We refer to this dingy crevice as "Piss Alley".

It lives up to its name.

As I reach the foot of the stairs I see the stain on the floor. A reaching, sprawling reminder of years of piss running under the door of the fire-exit, as if Piss Alley were trying to branch out and take over the building like some liquid cancer.

Urinary infection.

Holding my breath, I try to step over the ancient stain to open the fire-door. I am remembering the last time I did this, when I got to this stage and was stopped dead by what sounded like somebody masturbating in the alley. Either that or he was just really enjoying having a very quiet piss. And muttering to himself. I turned away, leaving the door unopened. It seemed rude to interrupt him, whatever he was doing. And I don't get paid enough to add "disturbing homeless junkies mid-wank" to my list of career experience.

This time, though, there is no sound from beyond the door, so I push the bar and swing it open.

A small swarm of flies unsettles into the air. This is not a good sign.

There's poo here.

There's a clump of fossilised shite right in the middle of the doorway. It's human poo. Maybe the phantom wanker wasn't beating himself off after all. Maybe he was just having a nice relaxing poo.

My mind boggles at the thinking behind this cavalier crapping. Obviously, the shitter's mind was addled by drink or drugs or both, but COME ON! This is a doorway! I can understand that if you're out and about - smacking yourself up on the cobbled streets - and you get caught short, you have to go somewhere, but a friggin doorway? The MIDDLE of a doorway, no less? Now, in an emergency situation, our customers have to choose between being burned to death and a trip to Shit-City via Pissville.

I close the door.

I carry on with my tour of fire-exits. Unbelievably, there is another, fresher glob of excrement outside the escape from screen six. It's like they're trying to surround us. Barricade us in with shit and then burn the building down.

I think I've had more than my fair share of shit in this job in the past month or so.

I go back upstairs and tell the site manager about the poo. There appears to be an unspoken understanding between us that neither of us feel inclined to get our hands REALLY dirty for the sake of this job, so I leave any decision about action to be taken to her and clear off back to the safe, hermetically sealed environment of the projection booth.

I wonder about the Big Cheese. Is he like the Queen? Everywhere he goes, people clean up before he gets there, so he has no idea how filthy the real world is. But then, we all only need step a little out of our comfort zone for shit to get real.

It doesn't take much for the grim piss of reality to come seeping under our door.

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